Maryland officials will send nearly 30,000 checks today to depositors whose money was trapped in First Maryland Savings and Loan when the Silver Spring thrift plunged into insolvency during last year's savings and loan crisis.
The first batch of checks will total about $71 million and will include full payment to depositors with individual retirement accounts and with accounts of less than $5,000, according to John Rydell, spokesman for the Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund.
Depositors with larger accounts will receive $5,000 now and will be paid the remainder in installments as the thrift's assets are sold over the next four years. The amount that will be repaid to depositors with accounts exceeding $100,000 -- the amount insured by MDIF -- will not be determined until all the assets are sold, Rydell said.
First Maryland experienced phenomenal growth in the early 1980s, but collapsed quickly amid depositor runs last summer. State officials investigating its collapse uncovered a gigantic tangle of bad loans and huge debts, including a $40 million loss in real estate loans, $70 million in assets that generated no income, and $150 million in "unattractive" construction loans for projects across the country.
The thrift, with 24,071 depositors, was placed in receivership last month after the state was unable to sell it. That decision, by Circuit Court Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan of Baltimore, prompted protests by some depositors who believed that selling the thrift would free deposits more quickly than the time-consuming liquidation process.
Rydell said the checks will be mailed today by the state Department of Licensing and Regulation. About $50 million will come from an insurance fund, and an additional $15 million was authorized by the General Assembly last winter.
The 7,181 depositors with more than $5,000 each in First Maryland had a combined total of $245 million in their accounts. Rydell said he believed there were a "few hundred" First Maryland accounts larger than $100,000, most of them held by large financial institutions.